DALLAS — In this town of giant excess, where hair is big, Stetsons are bigger, and everybody wears boots no matter what the weather, the great excess known as Super Bowl week began in earnest on Monday.
And yes, there will be a football game played on Sunday. But before that, there will be a party, and a media day, and about seven million news conferences, and another and a few more parties just in case you missed the one the night before.
This really is the perfect place for the Super Bowl, which makes it rather amazing that it has never been here before. Dallas, never mind the ice storms that are apparently on their way, is built to party. It’s Regina with size and attitude and money and opulence, with the largest steaks anyone has seen the Flintstones was cancelled. You want big? Nothing is bigger than Super Bowl week in America and it becomes all the more idiotic and spectacular because this is Dallas, football country, party central, with two of the landmark franchises of the National Football League playing, the Green Bay Packers and the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It doesn’t get bigger and better than that , or certainly more expensive. The prices around here make the Bills in Toronto people seem charitable, but guess, what, people are paying it.
They’re paying $163 to be able to park their cars on Sunday and tailgate.
They’re paying $200 for a ticket to watch the game, not in Cowboys Stadium, outside of it, in an outdoor plaza, on a huge video screen. And while the idea seemed just slightly illogical coming in, as of Monday close to 10,000 closed circuit seats have been sold.
And that luxury box that usually goes for $12,000 US a game — well for Super Bowl, it’s discounted for $163,000. And there aren’t any left.
This is, on normal weeks, a party town, but happens to be party week for the party town. The huge Super Bowl kickoff party is Tuesday night at the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau — invitation only — for thousands of your closest friends. That’s followed by eight parties on Wednesday night, eight more official parties on Thursday night, and the real stuff doesn’t even get underway until the weekend traveller’s get here.
It seems the only way Terrell Owens, LaDainian Tomlinson, the Wayans Brothers, Pamela Anderson, Dennis Rodman, Kei$ha, P. Diddy and Adrian Peterson could make it to Super Bowl week was by hosting their own party. And those are the ones open to the public, typically, at a cost. The private parties, like the ones hosted by the television networks, by agent Leigh Steinberg, or Sports Illustrated Magazine, well, you have to know someone who knows someone who knows someone to get in.
And then there’s a football game. Yes, the game. The players should be well rested, having had two weeks off from the conference championships. The rest of us might be exhausted by kickoff.
But the great matchup of these great teams begins with the matchup at quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger, who began the season in exile, may end it with his third Super Bowl title of his six-year career. That would almost be unprecedented, which may need a recount, only because the first titles for Roethlisberger came against Arizona and Seattle. Neither the Cardinals nor the Seahawks have ever been Super Bowl bound before that or since. Roethlisberger has two rings. The third one, should it come, will be against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers and that will be a win of a different level.
Rodgers has had a marvellous season, losing his running back early, playing often without any kind of running game, but looks to be Peyton Manning without all the gesturing, and maybe, we’ll find out, capable of winning the big one when it matters.
That, by itself, makes this matchup compelling. Before then, we could see a Super Bowl Week like we’ve never seen before. A big game in a place where big just happens to be who they are and what they do. Cowboys Stadium, with standing room, with seats outside, has the largest capacity of any stadium in the NFL. It cost $1.3 billion to build, which is easy to understand: This is Dallas. Everything this Super Bowl week will be bigger than ever.
Better then ever? We’ll let you know.